As July turns into August, and the end of summer looms on the horizon, this is a perfect time to pause and check-in with how you’re really doing.
Do you spend a large part of the year fantasizing about summertime? About the long days and the sunshine, the big projects you finally have time to tackle, the personal retreats and family vacations, about completions and new beginnings?
All of these activities can fill you with joy, a sense of accomplishment, or connection to the people you love. They can also connect you to your deepest values, which is so revitalizing.
Yet, if you have anxiety, you well know that these same undertakings can bring along a sense of dread, exhaustion and nervous anticipation. Anxiety can turn the very things you love most of all into sources of tension and stress.
If you don’t pay attention, anxiety can not only keep you from living this summer to the fullest, but can keep you from living the fullest, truest life that you long to live.
So let’s take a few minutes to check in. Here are a few questions you might consider:
Do you find that anxiety has been keeping you from enjoying summer as much as you had hoped?
What values were/are the most important to you this summer? How has anxiety made it harder for you to live out those values?
Are there any resolutions you made for yourself this summer that anxiety has kept you from completing? If so, what role has anxiety played?
No matter what answers have come, remember, don’t lose heart. Gathering accurate information about what is actually happening for you is one of the most vital actions you can take along the road of self-growth and personal developments. We need to know our baseline.
Start by noticing.
What do you notice and feel reading and answering these questions?
Where do the feelings live in your body? Does your stomach turn into a tight knot? Does your chest tighten, or your breath become more rapid and shallow? Does your body get hot or face flushed?
If you are like most people, the moment you realize you haven’t lived up to the goals and values you committed to yourself and promised others, you turn to your familiar coping mechanism.
You shut down, numb out, turn to substances, food, technology, video games, and over-work. You latch onto any outlet you can find so you can avoid feeling whatever you are feeling.
And yet, it is precisely when you feel these terribly uncomfortable feelings, that you can do your best work.
If you can stay present long enough to feel your disappointment and guilt, your fear and shame—you can begin to reflect on what your deepest values are, where you strayed, and how you can re-align yourself to the life you most yearn to live.
Next week we are going to delve into a step-by-step process of how to do this...stay tuned!